Emerging British fashion designer Bethany Williams will be the second winner of the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design, following in the footsteps of Richard Quinn, and will be presented with the honour at her London Fashion Week show by the Duchess of Cornwall on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen.
The Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design was initiated in recognition of the role the fashion industry plays in society and diplomacy and the movement of young designers that are both talented and making a difference to society through either sustainable practices or community engagement.
In a statement from the British Fashion Council they said that Williams was chosen as she is a designer who “demonstrates both value to the community and strong sustainable practices”.
Caroline Rush, chief executive of the British Fashion Council said: “The UK is known for its world-class creative emerging talent, and many of the new generation of talent are embedding sustainable or social impact within their businesses from the start.
“Bethany is an incredible example of this generation of designer and we are delighted to work with the Duchess of Cornwall this year on behalf of Her Majesty to highlight her work through this Award as another very special moment at London Fashion Week.”
Williams, a graduate from London College of Fashion, champions social and environmental causes and challenges perceptions in fashion and in recent seasons she has partnered with charities supporting social change across women’s empowerment, homelessness, successful rehabilitation of offenders back into society, improving literacy amongst the most vulnerable in society and education programmes teaching skills and creating employment for those with the most limited opportunities and prospects.
In addition, Williams has an an ongoing relationship with TIH models, a modelling agency that supports youth in London who have been affected by homelessness; casting them in campaigns and fashion shows at market standard rates.
Williams founded her eponymous label in 2017, and each piece is 100 percent sustainable and made in the UK, even down to the buttons which are hand crafted in the Lake District, and she has also developed new textile manufacturing techniques using materials often discarded as waste within traditional textile manufacturing facilities and recycled materials, as well as finding innovative ways to repurpose waste product into new usable textiles spanning industries from publishing and printing, wine bottling and tenting.
Giving back is also at the heart of her label with a sizeable percentage of profit from the wholesale and distribution of her work returned to charity partners to help further their work and put resources where they are needed most at the foundations of a sustainable and equal society.
On her website, Williams states: “We want not just to comment on a community, but work in their social spaces to try to create a change through furthering economic gain for charity. By using social capital, intellectual and labour intensive skills we aim to create a profit, which will be given to connected charities, continuing the cycle of exchange.
“Through collaboration with communities and charities we hope to create a collection embedded with real people and hope to cause a real effect in the social space we engage with.”
Bethany Williams will present her autumn/winter 2019 collection and receive the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design on February 19 during London Fashion Week.
Images: via Bethany Williams website by Amber Grace Dixon